TEMS ON COLLABORATING WITH Beyoncé, Drake
The Nigerian singer Tems – was tucked up in bed in West London when Beyoncé’s album Renaissance dropped online. “I had a show the night before, so on Friday I was just sleeping the whole day,” she says. Openiyi had a guest vocal – in the standout track “Move” alongside Beyoncé and Grace Jones – on the biggest album of the year. Another artist might have popped Champagne. Not Openiyi. She had a lie-in, then went for a late lunch with her mum.
This kind of thing has been happening to Openiyi lately, ever since she released “Essence” in 2020. The duet with Wizkid reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning Openiyi a Grammy nomination and a string of celebrity admirers. Last year, a clip of Adele – a confessed Tems fan – singing Openiyi’s “Try Me” went viral on social media. “‘Free Mind’ by Tems has me in a fucking choke hold… wow,” wrote SZA on Twitter. When Future sampled her song “Higher”, he made sure she had a featuring credit so his fans got to know her name. Having only released two EPs to date, the 27-year-old has already featured on tracks with Drake, Future, and Justin Bieber. The same week “Move” came out, Openiyi soundtracked the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – so far seen more than 38 million times on YouTube – and appeared on Barack Obama’s summer playlist. All this before the release of her upcoming debut studio album. As Openiyi herself puts it on her 2021 EP, If Orange Was a Place: “crazy tings are happening.”